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Friday, May 16, 2008

Latest Chelsea News

Ballack revels in Blues role
German skipper forced to adapt his game
By Chris Burton Last updated: 15th May 2008

Michael Ballack believes he has become a more ruthless player since moving to Stamford Bridge.
The midfielder arrived at Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer of 2006 and has taken his time to settle among his new surroundings.
However, having now firmly found his feet in English football he feels he has been forced to alter his style of play in order to create cohesion among a squad brimming with world class talent.
"Playing for Chelsea I have to be more ruthless than in the German national team where I've managed to earn myself a different status over the years," Ballack said.
"But it also means that I'm expected to make decisions on the pitch - it's different at Chelsea.
"We have six captains from national teams on our side - John Terry for England, Didier Drogba for the Ivory Coast, Andrei Shevchenko for the Ukraine, Petr Cech for the Czech Republic, Claudio Pizarro for Peru and me for Germany, as well as quite a few top international players.
"It goes without saying that everyone is forced to show some restraint so as not to jeopardise our success. But you have to face the challenge.
"You have to make people sit up and take notice of you otherwise you just go under in a team like this, you're just devoured by the machine. And so I've become more ruthless.
"But I wanted to play with all these stars - come hell or high water. Just to be able to prove that I could meet the challenge was well worth the battle for me.
"And now I can say, whatever happens, I've accomplished something. At the same time, I was never worried that I wouldn't succeed."

The German international is currently preparing for a UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United and admits that he is desperate for European glory.
Ballack was part of a Bayer Leverkusen side which came unstuck in the 2002 final against Real Madrid and he is hoping to avoid a repeat this time around.
"I just desperately want to win this trophy," he added.
"I don't want to look back on my career at some point and say: 'what a pity, I came close a few times, but it was never good enough'.
"We outplayed Real and we lost 2-1. We defeated ourselves in that match. Occasionally I think back on it. That's the way it is in football.
"But the feeling is just growing about what it would be like to actually hold the trophy in my hands.
"At some stage it fills you up entirely, your whole way of thinking the closer you get to the day of the match. And that's as it should be. You have to be totally focused and greedy about winning the cup."

Lampard WILL Sign A New Chelsea Contract!

By: The Informer Date: 12 May 2008 can reveal that Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard will be staying at Stamford Bridge after deciding to renew his contract within the next few weeks. This after there had been almost constant speculation that he might leave the club after stalling on signing either an extension to his present contract or penning a new agreement.
After being asked whether he would be staying at Stamford Bridge and referring to the somewhat lengthy contract negotiations, Lampard replied, “It’s nearly all been sorted out. Of course I want to stay.”Talking of his mother’s recent death, he continued, “After all that’s happened over the past few weeks and the way that the club and everyone has treated me and the kind things that everyone has said, I don’t think I’ll ever want to leave.”Lampard’s current contract expires next year but, as is the usual practice, such agreements between players and their clubs are usually negotiated and agreed well in advance of their expiry dates. However, when former manager José Mourinho left Chelsea last September, there were immediate rumours and speculation that once the Portuguese had found a new club, Lampard, along with Ricardo Carvalho and Didier Drogba would follow him to join him.Italian clubs Inter Milan and Juventus and Catalan giants Barcelona were all said to be destinations for Mourinho with the three players set to follow him. Talk of Lampard going to Spain was compounded by the fact that his long-term girlfriend and mother of his children Elen Rives is Spanish. Under UEFA rules, Lampard could have bought out the rest of his contract during the summer had he so desired or even stayed at Stamford Bridge to see it out and thereby leave by way of a free-transfer. The price to Lampard to buy his way out of Stamford Bridge would have been around £8m.Earlier this year, Steve Kutner – Lampard’s agent – had been quoted saying, “He is as indispensable to Chelsea as anyone. We know about the rule and I've talked to Peter Kenyon, Chelsea's chief executive, about what Frank's worth to Chelsea, and what he's worth to other clubs."
An England international, Lampard was signed from West Ham in 2001 for £11m by Claudio Ranieri and, in his first season, helped Chelsea reach the 2002 FA Cup Final. Since then, he has won two Premiership winners medals, an FA Cup and two League Cup winners medals and was also voted by journalists as the Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 2005.He also holds the record of playing the most number of consecutive Premier League matches, a total of 164.The news that he will be staying at Stamford Bridge will be regarded as extremely good news by Chelsea supporters for whom he has proved to be one of the most popular players in the club’s history.

Sir Alex sways referees, claims Chelsea boss Grant as relationship turns sour
Avram Grant's relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson was at breaking point last night after the Chelsea chief claimed match officials are running scared of the Manchester United manager.
In a remarkable attack in the buildup to the Champions League Final in Moscow, the usually mild mannered Israeli claimed referee Mike Dean "changed the result" when Chelsea lost 2-0 at Old Trafford in his first game in charge last September.
The Chelsea manager also believes Steve Bennett was 'influenced' by Ferguson ahead of United's 2-0 win at Wigan on the final day of the season.
Grant, who said on Friday he had an expensive bottle of wine to share with Ferguson in Moscow next Wednesday, even surprised his own bosses with the scathing outburst at the Barclays Premier League's leading officials.
Although the Chelsea boss conveniently forgot that Nani was sent off during United's 4-1 destruction of West Ham in the penultimate League game of the season, Grant said: "After we beat United we were on the same number of points, but we knew they had to play Wigan and West Ham."It was not in our hands. I believe in the tradition of the English game, I will not say anything against this, but what happened is what I expected.
"In England, there are some very good referees, but there are some — a few of them — you can influence, just like you saw.
"In the game we played against United at Old Trafford, the referee changed the result for sure. We know that. The red card for Mikel was not a red card, the red card that wasn't for Paul Scholes on Sunday should have been. Then there was the penalty (when Rio Ferdinand handballed).
"I looked at the Wigan-Manchester United game and the referee was, as expected, good for one team. I do not think the world is against Chelsea, or English football, but in this case there were some coincidences for Manchester United. Again, I must congratulate them."
Asked if he was pleased that the referee in Moscow will not be English, Grant added: "I can say yes."

The FA will study Grant's comments before deciding whether to take disciplinary action and will undoubtedly come under pressure from the Professional Game Match Officials Board.
Ferguson will be infuriated and will almost certainly respond today, while the Premier League are expected to address the increasing instances of managers criticising officials before the start of next season. Referees' supremo Keith Hackett will call a managers' meeting and remind them that the respect initiative implemented during the season applies to players as well as coaching staff.
Grant is showing increasing confidence in what could yet turn out to be his final few days in the job and claims Chelsea have nothing to fear from United.
He said: "I think, on the tactical side, this game is one of the easiest because everybody knows everybody. I don't think Alex will surprise me on anything and I don't think I will surprise him.
"We know their weaknesses and strengths and I think they know ours. On the motivation side, you don't need to motivate players for this game.
"You need to preserve the gameplan so that they give their best and concentrate on this game. It is one game and then we all go on vacation."
Grant spent yesterday afternoon in a tactics meeting with assistant manager Steve Clarke and first-team coach Henk Ten Cate, but they can count on the return of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of their defence.
As expected, Terry trained yesterday in a specially adapted cast to protect his left elbow and Carvalho resumed training for the first time since aggravating a back injury at Newcastle 10 days ago.

Sir Alex Ferguson fuels war of words with Chelsea
Sir Alex Ferguson has hit back at Avram Grant's claims that Manchester United benefited from favourable refereeing decisions in their crucial victory over Wigan Athletic last Sunday.
"I've been expecting it," Ferguson said. "I don't think it's about last Sunday, I think it's about next Wednesday and maybe even next season. I could go on and on about decisions because they're all debatable at the end of the day, we feel we didn't get a lot of decisions this season.
“Maybe when we went to Chelsea we should have been champions before it, but with the season over we can put it on the backburner and now it's about next Wednesday and I think that's why Avram's talking that way.”
The Chelsea first-team coach had claimed that Steve Bennett, the referee, helped United win the title by missing a deliberate handball by Rio Ferdinand and failing to dismiss Paul Scholes after his clumsy challenge on Wilson Palacios.
Ferguson has brushed off the remarks as nothing more than petty mind games as the war of words between the clubs continues before the Champions League final in Moscow next Wednesday

Chelsea to offer Cech bumper £90,000-a-week deal - May 13, 2008
Petr Cech is set for a bumper pay-rise at Chelsea.
The Daily Mail says Chelsea are set to open contract talks with goalkeeper Cech after the Champions League final. Cech, 25, has two years to run on his current deal but will be offered a two-year extension at £90,000 a week, tying him to Stamford Bridge until 2010.

Ballack hints at closing career at Chelsea - May 13, 2008
Michael Ballack has hinted he could close his career at Chelsea.
Ballack, 31, who has played a crucial role in Chelsea's fight for the Premiership title and the road to Moscow, ruled out another big transfer move.
"That isn't part of the plan - but it wouldn't bother me either. I do believe, though, that the most important transfers are behind me," said the midfielder. "The decisions a footballers makes at 18 or 23 are the important ones. I can't make any especially big moves any more."

Chelsea boss Grant denies clearout - May 13, 2008
Chelsea boss Avram Grant insists there will be no massive clearout in the summer.
He told Chelsea's website: "There is no truth in these rumours as nobody except me and the owner know the players for next year."

Chelsea Close In On Dos Santos - Report
The 18-year-old has been touted as an incredible prospect for a few years now, being likened to Ronaldinho, singled out for praise by Sir Alex Ferguson at the tender age of 14 and eventually making his breakthrough into the first team this season.However, it has been a poor season for the Blaugrana, and he has not been able to settle in as he would have liked, either. Filling in for the phenomenal Lionel Messi - who missed crucial parts of the season due to injury - proved a bridge too far for the Mexican, who was somewhat underwhelming in comparison to fellow wonderkid, Bojan Krkic.It has been rumoured that the forward is willing to leave the club unless he can be offered an improved contract, with Manchester City and Chelsea reportedly interested in the player several months ago.It is Chelsea who are now said to still be in the hunt for his services, with the club having held talks with the player's parents and agent.With a contract worth £40,000 per week - an astonishing amount for a player of that age - the deal is said to be all but done, with a fee needing to be agreed between the two clubs.
Chelsea boss Avram Grant is at loggerheads with the clubs director of scouting Frank Arnesen over a potential replacement for Didier Drogba.
The Times are reporting that Arnesen has identified Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez as the ideal signing to be a long term replacement for Drogba.
However boss Grant would prefer to sign a striker more in the mould of Tottenham Hotspur ace Dimitar Berbatov.

Chelsea boss Grant: No Abramovich meeting needed - May 14, 2008
Chelsea boss Avram Grant has denied reports he's set for decisive talks over his future with club owner Roman Abramovich later this week.
"I've never seen anything else apart from me staying and am planning my future here," he said. "If I'm not happy I'll tell the owner [Roman Abramovich] and if he's not happy he'll tell me, but nothing has changed. We don't need to make an appointment to meet like this, we can meet all the time."

Messi Better Than Ronaldo - Cole

Chelsea's Joe Cole has admitted he would love to play alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi, and that he rates him higher than Cristiano Ronaldo...
As the season comes to an end, rumours have been circulating that Chelsea will be spending big - very big - this summer, with names such as Steven Gerrard and Lionel Messi, no matter how sensationally, being linked with the club.Cole, who is enduring an untimely dip in form in what has been an otherwise great season, is hopeful the club could sign Argentine phenomenon.The versatile attacker went one better, asserting that Messi is the better player, despite Ronaldo enjoying the far more profitable season both on an individual and team level, as well as emerging on the victorious side when their clubs met in the Champions League semi-final last month.That win of course put the Red Devils through to the Moscow final, and the following day saw Chelsea seal their ticket with a win over Liverpool. The two sides meet on May 21, with Manchester United on the brink of paying the ultimate tribute to the Munich air disaster 50 years on with their third European Cup, and Chelsea - in their first ever final - looking to add to their fast-growing collection.FantasticOf Messi and Ronaldo, Cole said: “I think they are both great players. Ronaldo has been fantastic, but Messi showed in the semi-final that he is the top man."If we could sign him I'd love to play with him. He is only 20 as well, just imagine how good he will be in the next 10 years.” Onto more urgent matters, Cole is insisting the club can't afford to look back at mistakes made as they head into the Moscow showpiece. Team-mate Didier Drogba expressed his frustration to the press recently, lamenting points gifted to opposing teams in the final few minutes of games that allowed Manchester United to win the league.SimpleCole, however, is a little more philosophical. He insists that whatever happens, happens - with Manchester United no doubt dropping points they "shouldn't have", as well - and that it is time for Chelsea as a team to move on, for their own good.“We can't look back just at the Wigan game, there are too many to go through," he explained. "The best team wins the Premier League, it's as simple as that."Manchester United would have dropped points they shouldn't have too. We just have to put it to bed and get on with things. “We have the Champions League to play for. If you worried about every mistake you or the team had made over the course of a season you would never sleep at night. “Everyone has been patting us on the back for almost winning the league getting to the Champions League final, but it's about putting silverware on the table.” Sore HeadsThe former West Ham United man also revealed that the English contingent present in both sides have agreed that, regardless of who wins, the lucky lot will not brag and joke following the final when they all meet up to represent their country in friendlies against USA and Trinidad and Tobago.“We all have to meet up with England after the final and we have agreed that whoever wins the game won't throw any banter about because there will be a few sore heads," he revealed.

Chet Winter,

Mourinho screamed on phone: You lied to me!
DIDIER DROGBA has admitted he opened talks with AC Milan two years ago — when Jose Mourinho was still in charge of Chelsea.
The Blues striker went to Italy in August 2006 where he met with Milan players and a club official.
And in his explosive autobiography, Drogba reveals how a furious Mourinho accused him of lying over the trip.
The Ivory Coast international told the Blues manager he was going to Paris for a dental appointment, which was cancelled.
Instead, he flew to Milan in a private jet where he had dinner with Paolo Maldini and bumped into Milan vice- president Adriano Galliani, who asked when he would join the club.
The ensuing conversation was jovial but Drogba insists he urged Galliani to call Blues chief executive Peter Kenyon and ask the price of his transfer.
Furious Mourinho
Mourinho is very tuned in to the football grapevine and it was not long before his £24million striker was called to account.
The furious Portuguese coach phoned the Drog and hauled him over the coals for betraying him — a lesson the hitman never forgot.
Drogba, 30, revealed: “Jose took the phone and put it on loudspeaker and said: ‘OK, seeing as we are not kids we are going to talk.
‘I trusted you — I’ve done everything for you and there you are telling me you’re going to the dentist in Paris when in fact you’re in Milan talking over your transfer. You lied to me. You didn’t keep your word. Have you been badly brought up or what?’”
Mourinho was so angry that he ordered Drogba to train with the Blues reserves.
And the former Marseille man underwent the humiliation of turning out for the second team against West Ham the following night.
Drogba made up with his mentor shortly afterwards and the row turned out to be the making of him.
He went on to score 34 goals in the 2006-07 season — the first Chelsea striker to breach the 30 mark since Kerry Dixon in 1985.
The Special One then paid Drogba the ultimate tribute as he said his farewells after being sacked last September. He told Drogba: “You are the best striker in the world and you have made yourself that player.
“I am very proud of you and I want you to show the world just how good you are.”
It was all too much for the striker who broke down in tears and had to be comforted by team-mates as Mourinho walked out for the last time.

Drogba has since repeatedly stated his intention to leave Chelsea at the end of this season.
First, however, comes the small matter of the Champions League final and it is clear that he is determined to bow out in style.
Against Bolton on Sunday, he took a knock to the same knee which was operated on last December.
But wild horses will not prevent him playing in Moscow next week.
If it to be his last match in the blue of Chelsea, then he is determined to leave having made history. Drogba said: “This Champions League match is different. It will play itself out over 90 or 120 minutes like in the FA Cup final last year.
“We know we can beat United. We proved it in the league a fortnight ago. But they deserved their title and were rewarded for their consistency. We made too many mistakes.
“I took a knock on the knee I’ve previously had surgery on. But it was nothing serious and I’ll train this week.
“I spoke with John Terry about his dislocated elbow and he will play in Moscow. Nobody wants to miss this encounter.
“The only thing I’m thinking about right now is the final. I don’t yet know what will happen in June or July.”

Drogba: I wanted to strike
DIDIER DROGBA has revealed he nearly refused to play for Chelsea in the Champions League this season.
The Ivory Coast hitman considered quitting the Blues at Christmas to join one of their main European rivals.
Drogba, 30, hit two brilliant goals at Stamford Bridge to eliminate Liverpool in a pulsating semi-final last month.
But in his fiery new autobiography, he admits he confronted Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon to confirm that he wanted out and would not play in the Blues’ crunch group game in Valencia.
Drogba’s growing frustration at playing for Chelsea and his anger at the treatment of former boss Jose Mourinho brought him to the brink of turning his back on the team in their hour of need.
He said: “When I held Mourinho in my arms I couldn’t hold back my tears — it was too much.”
Drogba wanted to leave after Mourinho’s dramatic dressing-room speech about betrayal and the manager’s happiness to be turning his back on the club he had returned to greatness.
The striker admitted he could not “look certain team-mates in the eye.”
He also admits for the first time there were two groups in the Cobham training ground — those who were pro-Mourinho and “the others.”
He added: “If I had left mid-season it would have been for a club aiming for the top prize in continental football — and that meant I would not have been able to line up for Chelsea in the Champions League.
"It was a terrible dilemma. But I was ready not to play — I was feeling stubborn.”
Fortunately for Chelsea, Drogba sought advice from both his agent and from his former Marseille club president Pape Diouf.
Both told him to wise up and play.
He went on to hit the winner in Valencia to open up the route to the final.
Chelsea are now just 90 minutes away from their greatest triumph as they prepare to take on Manchester United in Moscow next Wednesday.
Drogba still insists that he wants to quit Stamford Bridge this summer but believes that the Chelsea supporters will be sympathetic.
He said: “Sometimes the fans cheered me but they ended up adopting me as one of theirs, like a real Blue.”
Now Drogba hopes to shrug off the knee injury sustained in the final league clash against Bolton to lead the attack against United.